Archive for Friday, May 27, 2005

Camping out for tickets creates memories

May 27, 2005


Let's be honest. Twenty years from now, you won't be bending your kid's ear with stories about all the wonderful things you learned in English Lit 101.

They won't care.

But, oh, how their eyes will light up when you tell them about the time you scored front row seats to the Missouri game.

Or how you had a class with Christian Moody.

Or how you were there when Bill Self brought a round of donuts for all the campers at Allen Fieldhouse.

This is Kansas University and, yes, academics matter. But so does men's basketball.

"It's a huge part of the KU experience," said Amanda Tate, a journalism senior from St. Louis.

To get the best seats - say, the first five rows - means camping out Allen Fieldhouse.

"I camped out a lot - almost every game - my freshman and sophomore years," Tate said. "I'm really glad I did. It's the only way to get the really good seats and you have to get the really good seats to get the full experience. It's really a fun, cool and unique thing to do."

Tate, in fact, scored prime seats to the Missouri game her freshman year.

"We'd camped out all week," she said. "And we were fifth place in line, so we got on the front row. It was incredible." KU won 73-61.

Tips for newcomers

Kansas University men's basketball fans Katie Mukherjee, left, Kristen Wehkamp, center, and Liz Mukherjee wait in sleeping bags for tickets to the November KU-Nevada game at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University men's basketball fans Katie Mukherjee, left, Kristen Wehkamp, center, and Liz Mukherjee wait in sleeping bags for tickets to the November KU-Nevada game at Allen Fieldhouse.

Brad Jurgensmeier, a freshman from Marion, Ill., camped out for every game last season. He offered a few tips to the not-so-experienced:

¢ "Definitely take an air mattress. The cement floors aren't too comfortable."

¢ "Get with a group that has a lot of people in it and has someone who has time to organize it - to share the responsibility and to make sure someone's always there."

¢ "Take a book or your laptop. It's a really good time to do homework."

Starting this semester, Allen Fieldhouse has wireless Internet access.

Jurgensmeier's group got third-row baseline seats for the Texas game last year.

"It was definitely worth the wait," he said. "It's an experience that can't be replicated on TV. It's just not the same."

During enrollment, students have the option of buying season tickets for both football and men's basketball games - they're called "combo packs" - for $125.

"It gets you admission into every home football game and every men's basketball home game," said KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony.

But there's a catch. The number of combo packs sold exceeds the number of seats in the student section. So when there's a run on tickets -like there was twice last season - the athletic department uses a lottery to distribute the last 200 student tickets.

"There are 4,000 seats in the student section," Marchiony said. "The first 3,800 (ticket holders) get in automatically, but starting with No. 3,801, students are put on notice that if more that 200 students show up for the remaining 200 tickets, there will be a lottery."

Lottery winners, Marchiony said, are notified by e-mail.

But getting a ticket does not ensure a good seat. That's where camping comes in.

'Roll call'

Before each home game, camper groups' representatives gather at 6 a.m. at Allen Fieldhouse to draw numbers that determine their group's place in line.

"After that, you don't leave," said Arthur Jones, a fifth-generation Jayhawk and a faithful camper. Each group can have up to 30 students.

Campers leave the building at 10 p.m., return at 6 a.m.

"There's always a roll call at 6 and 10," said Jones, a Dallas senior majoring in American Studies. "If no one from your group is there, you're crossed off the list and you lose your spot."

Another rule: "Anyone can yell 'roll call' at any time," Jones said.

Two hours before game time, 15 campers from each group are allowed in with the understanding they each may save one seat.

"The others go through the regular line," Jones said.

Jones was the first student allowed in to the Texas game three years ago when Nick Collison's 24 points and 23 rebounds prompted a standing ovation from ESPN's Dick Vitale.

"It was worth every minute (of camping)," Jones said.

Jones' tips for prospective campers:

¢ "Go in empty-handed because if you've got a backpack or something, you can be stopped and searched, which takes time."

¢ Don't be stupid. "I saw more people get kicked out for drinking last year than I'd seen the two previous years. Man, I wouldn't risk it."

Though football and basketball get the most attention, be aware that KU also fields men's teams in baseball, track and field, cross country, and golf; women's teams in softball, soccer, volleyball, rowing, tennis, swimming, cross country and golf.

Except for football and basketball, students are admitted free with a KU I.D.

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